For years now it’s good custom (especially in the bigger cities) to have a tenant pay a fee equaling one-month rent. Even when this person has found his way to this new home all by himself, via internet. This has come to an end a few months ago.
Although the law hasn’t changed, a ruling from the High Court on October 2015 has significantly changed the way the law is being interpreted.
In the particular case presented to the High Court, a rental agent had offered a house for rent on her website. People interested in viewing the place were asked to register first. The general conditions stated that in case of a rental agreement the tenant would pay the agent a fee of one-month rent.
However, it is not allowed for a rental agent to receive money from both the landlord and the tenant. The question raised was: ‘does presenting a house online automatically mean that you represent the landlord?’ The High Court has clearly stated that presenting a house online is indeed considered working in name of the landlord. Consequently, when you as a future tenant find a house all by yourself on the Internet, you will not need to pay a commission fee to the rental agent.
This has a few consequences for the way service is offered to house hunters. You can still hire an agent to look for you. Obviously in that case you pay a fee to the agent in case they find you a suitable place to live and an actual contract is signed. Only in this way you will rest assured that your interests will be looked after. In all other cases, the landlord pays the rental agent. The rental agent is loyal to the landlord and no mixed interests are able to exist due to pay from both parties.
So think before you start your search. How well do you know the area where you are house hunting? Do you feel confident enough about the language to search the web yourself and enter into contact with the agent renting out? Do you know the cultural norms and values enough to enter into negotiations? If that’s your case, wonderful news: You will now be able to browse the web and find a place by yourself and not having to pay a fee. If not, do seriously consider hiring a proper agent to look for you and guide you. You will pay a fee but you will get return on investment in many ways.